Big Wind gags WTS victims (Ontario)

Sep 14, 2011


“Farm couple challenges gag order of those who sell land to wind farms”

This image was not part of the original article—Editor

—John Spears, (9/13/11)

A Huron County farm couple is asking an Ontario court to lift gag agreements that were a condition of sale for landowners who sold their property to wind farms.

Shawn and Trisha Drennan are worried about the possible impact of a large wind farm planned for their district.

The project would place 100 to 150 large turbines in Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Township north of Goderich, with the nearest turbine as close as 650 metres from the Drennans’ home.

Developers of two other large wind projects in the general area bought the properties of a number of nearby residents.

The Drennans asked to interview six of the former residents, in order to ask them if they had suffered any health problems. Neighbours of some wind farms say they’ve suffered various ills, including headaches, to ringing in their ears, dizziness and nausea.

But a lawyer for the former residents replied that they are “prohibited by agreement” from answering questions about their health. Silence was a condition of the sales.

The Drennans want the gag removed.

Photo courtesy of Terry Davidson, Toronto Sun

In an application to Ontario Superior Court of Justice, their lawyer Julian Falconer argues that “the concealment by contract of serious public health and safety concerns is fundamentally against the public interest.”

The application notes that a decision of the province’s environmental review tribunal earlier this summer acknowledged “there are certainly legitimate concerns and uncertainties about the effects of wind turbines on human health.”

The tribunal, however, said the onus is on landowners to demonstrate the risk of health problems.

That means it’s up to the Drennans to collect information on the health effects, if any, of a large wind farm.

The non-disclosure clauses that the former residents signed when they sold their properties, however, prevent the Drennans from doing just that, their application argues.

“Evidence of former residents who chose to leave their homes entirely could represent evidence of the most extreme cases of adverse health effects,” it states.

The application also argues that the approval of turbines close to the Drennans’ home “implicates their right to security of the person” as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights, in view of the potential health impacts.

The Drennans have the right to oppose approval of the turbines, it argues. But the non-disclosure clause impairs their ability to gather evidence. That impairs their right to the security of the person “in a manner contrary to the principles of fundamental justice,” the application says.


  1. Comment by Tom Whitesell on 09/14/2011 at 6:34 pm

    Zero comments? I’ll say something! What kind of legitimate government would protect these corporations from full disclosure, by their own countrymen, of disastrous impacts to their health from the installation of for-profit wind projects?

    “Right to security of the person” as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights—seems like pretty much a no-brainer. Same thing in the USA, with “certain inalienable rights … among these—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
    US Constitution

  2. Comment by C. McLean on 09/15/2011 at 9:38 am

    If this McGuinty Liberal govt. gets re-elected, we are all doomed here in Ontario. Issues regarding energy do not seem to be on anybody’s radar. All people want to talk about is education, health care and taxes.

    McGuinty is in way too deep with his support of green energy to pull away, he even has the CEO of Samsung travelling with him to support green policies. If he allows this gag release, then he knows he will be toast come this election on October 6th.

    The strategy is to deny, distract and mislead, which is not difficult with the general taxpayers, who know very little about what is going on with wind development. If it doesn’t affect them directly, the issue gets shoved aside.

    Despite this blatant trouncing of our democratic rights, nobody seems to care in Ontario.

    It’s very worrisome

  3. Comment by Dr Sarah Laurie on 09/15/2011 at 10:37 am

    This is a real issue for people in Australia also—neighbours and also turbine hosts and their families, who are also getting sick.
    Trish Godfrey
    Trish Godfrey is one rural resident, formerly of Waubra, who has achieved a certain amount of publicity in Australia, as she was able to tell her story when she was subpoenaed to give evidence in a court case.

    First time around, Acciona threatened her in writing via her lawyer, just before she was about to go into the court to give evidence, and she was advised to return home to Victoria without giving evidence on that occasion. But luckily the judge “smelt a rat,” and ensured that she returned to the court a few months later, where she was finally able to give evidence.

    Luckily there was a journalist in the court who was able to report on what she heard, so the world now knows some of what she went through. But the only time Trish can speak publicly about what happened to her is when she is in court, having been subpoenaed.
    … from the Acciona website
    Some of the relevant media links which tell her story follow below:

    Martin King, from a Current Affair, September 2009. Immediately after this program, Trish was contacted by Acciona who were “keen to negotiate.”

    Cheryl Hall, from ABC Stateline, did a program which exposed the existence of the confidentiality or ‘gag’ clauses. She was unable to speak to Trish because of this. Note Acciona’s blanket denial of any problem as well as the Clean Energy Council (formerly the Australian Wind Energy Association) comments on noise and health.

    Finally, Brendan Gullifer’s report of Trish Godfrey’s evidence, given in Court in South Australia, in early 2011.

    Acciona’s lies are obvious to all.

  4. Comment by Itasca Small on 09/16/2011 at 6:08 pm

    This gag clause included worldwide in contracts for sale and/or lease of properties, and in so-called “good neighbor agreements,” is quite troublesome for me. I do not understand why the Carpetbagger developers continue to be able to enforce these “contracts” (Carpetbagger: a pejorative term applied to certain Northerners in the 1800s, following the U.S. Civil War; they took huge unfair advantage of the economic woes in the southern states). The victims do not seem to have legal tools to fight after they learn the truth. Their “contracts” were fraudulently promulgated by the developers. The contracts are illegal because the developers know the truth and lie to their victims, who should then be able to bring suit against the developers and/or neighboring leaseholders upon a cause of action against fraud. They should be able to defend against legal enforcement “at-the-point-of-a-gun” of said fraudulent clauses (any use of the “magistrate’s sword of enforcement” is coercion backed by threat of loss of freedom in some manner, and when wielded in furtherance of illegal acts it is complicitous action by the government, hence enforcement at-the-point-of-a-governmental-gun can be unlawful).

    Why can’t they claim the fraud and then present evidence to support that claim? The evidence should not be precluded on the legal ground of the victim having agreed to a clause when that clause was obviously imposed solely because the developer knows a significant number of people will experience various harmful effects from the land use. There is obvious intent to defraud and subsequent victims should not be bound by the fraudulent contracts. But, I am not an attorney, and would really appreciate clarification of this whole heinous ‘modus operandi.’

  5. Comment by Antithropocentric on 08/21/2013 at 2:05 am

    These massive towers are just as insidious as oil & gas fracking, in my opinion. The hypocrisy of pseudo-environmentalists who’ve literally thrown the landscape “under the blades” is hard to fathom. I never knew aesthetics would take such a back seat to their zeal for eliminating carbon sources. They are barking up a one-issue tree.

    And no, I’m not a global warming denier. I wish such willfully ignorant people would stop muddying this issue. Human impacts on nature exist in many realms. It’s not just a matter of “us against them” in the typical debates people get into.

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